OPEN LETTER: My Personal Support of the Fair Chance Hiring ordinance

Earlier today, I wrote a personal letter to the Austin City Council to voice my individual support for the Fair Chance Hiring ordinance. The FCH ordinance is a non-partisan issue sometimes referred to as “Ban the Box”.

This is about access and fairness, as well as, planning for the long term, economic growth of Austin. You can learn here and I hope you will join me and writing city hall on this issue.

Photo from Texas Observer: https://www.texasobserver.org/austin-poised-ban-the-box/

Dear Mayor Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Tovo and Council Members:
I am personally writing in support of the Fair Chance Hiring ordinance (Item 19) being considered by Council on March 24, 2016.
In my role as Executive Director of the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce, we are seeing many roadblocks and unnecessary policies act as barriers to finding employment. There are an estimated 70 million people in the United States — nearly one in three adults — who have arrest or conviction records. When job seekers who are qualified for employment struggle to find a job and maximize their potential, our economy as a whole is weakened.
The process to solve this problem has been open, inclusive, and transparent. Input has been gathered from multiple sources and has been prudent. Personally, I have seen active engagement to refine and mold this policy to help the people harmed find work and those that have to enforce this policy hire quality employees.
Fair chance hiring policies help create economic opportunity. A cornerstone of why I joined the AYC as a member and then asked to be their Executive Director. As an individual, I am asking you to foster that community and keep our economic climate strong and also assist those in need.
By connecting those who are hardest to employ with meaningful employment, they are able to provide for their families, contribute through taxes and have more buying power. These policies improve safety, as access to employment for formerly incarcerated people significantly reduces recidivism. And fair chance hiring policies also expand civil rights by reducing barriers to employment for folks who often face discrimination in hiring.
If we are going to address mobility and affordability, the heart of that issue is access to good paying jobs. This proposal does that.
The ordinance draft proposed by Council Member Casar is a strong policy modeled after national best practices. The Casar proposal contains important amendments to make the law easier to follow for employers, while still maximizing fair employment opportunities for those who need them the most.
Thank you for considering this important policy.

UPDATE (March 25): The Austin City Council voted to pass good policy that helps the workers who need it most. Read more here.

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